Hurricane Katrina: Evangelist Billy Graham

Amid the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in the USA, a host of leading Christians have come out to offer their support to those affected. Leading world evangelist Billy Graham has led the reactions to the disaster and described it as “the worst tragedy America has known since the Civil War”.

Watching the reports and scenes that have emerged in the aftermath of the hurricane, Rev Billy Graham told how what he has seen has been “almost frightening”.

Speaking on the huge contrasting images coming from New Orleans, Rev Graham said, “Mayhem, looting, shooting, and raping on one hand – compassion on the other. Millions of Americans, and millions of people in many countries abroad, want to help. The tragedy is so overwhelming that it is beyond comprehension. Yet it presents a challenge. With the aid of modern technology it is possible to turn the tragedy into blessing.”

Graham offered his prayers for the hundreds of thousands that have become refugees, saying, “I pray especially for the hundreds of thousands who have become refugees because of what has happened. The flood of refugees may be one of the greatest challenges our society has ever faced. It is clear that it will take years for thousands of lives to return to normal.”

He continued, “Scores of organisations and thousands of churches and individuals are involved in opening their arms of love and compassion to these refugees. It may be the greatest opportunity to demonstrate God's love in this generation.”

Offering his comments on why such a catastrophe can happen: “Whenever any disaster like this strikes, we often ask ourselves why. Why did God let this happen? I have been asked that question hundreds of times, and I have to confess that I do not know the full answer. I can recall walking through the aftermath of hurricanes in Florida and South Carolina, and a typhoon in India that killed tens of thousands, and earthquakes in California and Guatemala, and every time I have asked ‘Why?’

“Job in the Bible asked the same question thousands of years ago, and his only answer was that God's ways are often beyond our understanding, and yet He is sovereign and He can still be trusted. The Bible says evil is a mystery. Someday we will understand, but not now.”

As he concluded his comments he revealed the compassion and love of God saying, “I do know this, however: God knows what we are going through, and He still loves us and cares about us. In the midst of suffering and tragedy we can turn to Him for the comfort and help we need. Times like this will make us react in one of two ways: Either we will become bitter and angry – or we will realise our need of God and turn to Him in faith and trust, even if we don't understand.

“The Bible says, ‘He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds’ (Psalm 147:3). The Bible also promises, ‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. ...Since you are precious and honoured in my sight, and because I love you’ (Isaiah 43:2,4). May this tragedy make each of us realise our need of God, and may we turn to Christ in repentance and faith and find our hope in Him.

Rev Billy Graham